On the brink of her latest UK tour, world-renowned folk singer-songwriter Kirsty Almeida’s latest album Moonbird is an ethereal capsule into a sphere of bliss, beauty and vulnerable emotion.
This is the artist’s first release after a six-year hiatus following the birth of her son and displays an understated rawness that is a testament to both her songwriting and the purity of her work. The soft and poised melodies within tracks such as ‘The Stranger’ and ‘You Make My Heart’ are consuming and stunning in vocal arrangement and musical structure, displaying the best of both Kirsty’s distinct and entrancing tone and her musical dexterity and precision.
This album feels very much a fusion of the many influences within Kirsty’s life. Born in Scotland, but raised in Gibraltar from the age of 11, she moved back to the UK to study for her degree, making Yorkshire her home. After winning the prestigious ‘Take 5 Jazz Award’ in 2009, Kirsty was signed to DECCA which allowed her to play internationally and release her debut album under the production of renowned musician Martin Glover.
The dynamic and immersive nature of ‘Moonbird’ allows the lyricism and vocal arrangement to shine. Here, Kirsty’s precision songwriting exposes not only a harmonious but a perfectly curated track, fuelled by the dichotomy of empowered tranquillity. It is a desperate and fragile call for help that resonates with the listener in both its urgency and strength all at once. Similarly, ‘Josie Brown’ engages lyricism with a distinct narrative seamlessly and is a moving and heartfelt dedication to friendship and love.
The musical harmony within ‘Dance With Me’ of guitar and strings is both soothing and almost hypnotic and has received widespread acclaim after it’s release ahead of the album at the beginning of February. It’s a seductive and impassioned cry for love, which is accompanied by an equally hypnotic music video drawing in Kirsty’s upbringing in Gibraltar.
‘I’m Going to Love You’ is the penultimate track, and with it demonstrates the dexterity of Kirsty’s songwriting and influences. Positioned in the heart of this folk album, it fuses the passion of folk with the tenacity of jazz to form a foot tapping song with a distinct New Orleans feel. A stunning choral vocal support reinforces both Kirsty’s vocals and the track’s multi-faceted musical layering. This is where the expert songwriting invested into Moonbird really shines through.
Moonbird is stunningly soulful and reinstalls a childhood naivety and untainted perception of the world within what often feels within the genre an old and weary narrative. The album radiates warmth and peace, whilst addressing the pain and fragility of romance and the confusion of new beginnings. It’s a poised and graceful yet immensely powerful introduction both into the world of Kirsty Almeida and also the incredible power of folk as a genre.
You can catch Kirsty and her band the troubadours, live at The Met, Bury on 29 February, Trades Club, Hebden Bridge March 13, Chetham’s Library, Manchester on 14 March and Priestley College, Warrington on 23 March. More dates to follow
Find tickets on her website here.
This is Lily Martin’s debut piece for Louder Than War. Find her on Instagram.